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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

West Ham are in danger of Premier League oblivion

Five things we learned from the weekend

Fabian Balbuena of West Ham tackles Helder Costa of Wolves
1 of 1

1 West Ham are already in trouble 
The Hammers looked like they had hit rock-bottom last season, but if they are not careful they could descend into a pit of misery.

Four games in West Ham are still pointless, and it could get worse as they are facing tricky trips to Everton and Brighton and home clashes with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their next five games.

Last season's horror show came to a boiling point when unhappy fans protested at their unpopular new stadium and, despite the club attempting to paper over the rift between the club and the fanbase with a flurry of summer signings and a big-name manager, there is a possibility that this season could unravel. 

Manuel Pellegrini was lured in on a huge contract, but he had the look of a man who hadn't done his due diligence as he gazed bewildered from the touchline while Wolves took three points away from London. He's currently the joint favourite to be the next manager to leave his job.

Strangely for a team known as the Irons, they seem incapable of pressing.

If Pellegrini loses the fans he will find it hard to get them back, and if the atmosphere at the stadium turns toxic it will be harder for them to dig their way out of trouble. 

West Ham are 11-4 to go down - there are only three teams shorter in the betting - and unless Pellegrini starts earning his money that price could shrink quickly.

2 The Hornets are buzzing
Elton John was at Vicarage Road to watch Watford's 2-1 victory over Tottenham, and he may at his piano right now writing a song about Craig Cathcart after he witnessed his beloved Watford come from behind to beat Spurs.

It was a superb performance from the Hornets, who have won their first four league matches. 

Manager Javi Gracia was one of the favourites in the sack race a few weeks ago but he's now out to 33-1 and there's a buzz around the club.

After ten managers in the last six years maybe Watford have finally found a formula they can stick with for a bit.

3 Don't bet on Crystal Palace before the teamsheet is in
Punters who backed Crystal Palace to beat Southampton early in the week or without realising the late team news had a sinking feeling when they found out the Eagles would be without Wilfried Zaha.

The Palace star may be out for up to a month after it was revealed he injured his groin in training, and defeat to Saints means the Eagles have now lost ten games out of ten without him since the start of last season, scoring just three goals in those fixtures. 

“I don’t quite know what I can do about it until such time as we play a game without Wilf and win,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said.

“It’s a fact. Again he didn’t play and again we didn’t win. It’s a pure fact that we have to learn to live with."

Zaha is a fabulous player, but they must be wary of the mental effect it could have on the team as the media and fans will focus on that fact.

Next up for the Eagles is a softish set of games against Huddersfield, Newcastle and Bournemouth and they must put the Zaha hoodoo to bed before it turns into a nightmare. 

4 Everton can't defend set-pieces
Marco Silva has done a decent job at Everton but his good work is being undone by a failure to defend set-pieces. 

Five out of the six goals Everton have conceded in the Premier League have come from dead-ball situations, with corners a particular blind spot. 

Evertonians will hope the imminent introduction of towering centre-back Yerry Mina will help sort that out.

Glenn Murray is one of the Premier League's most underrated strikers
Brighton's Glenn Murray bagged a brace as the Seagulls rescued a point in a 2-2 draw against Fulham. 

Most people would tell you the Premier League is no place for a 35-year-old veteran striker, but Murray has netted 15 goals since the start of last season - only seven players have scored more. 

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Strangely for a team known as the Irons, they seem incapable of pressing
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